IT is really embarrassing and quite incredible to see the present mire filth the national judiciary finds itself in during a time the country seriously needs its impeccable firmness and readiness to be the reliable, veritable and effective weapon to fight the callous beast, corruption, which is crippling and sinking the country. Corruption, the cancerous phenomenon, has found its way to the judiciary, the last hope of the common man, as an average Nigerian believes.
It is surprising that lawyers of high calibre are luring and bribing justices who are living unimaginable luxury lives in order to pervert the course of justice. Hence, both the Bar and Bench infringe, flout and violate the ethics of the prestigious profession which ought to be sacrosanct. The cases being probed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Department of State Security (DSS) are just few out of numerous across the country. An investigation into how all the judges in each of the states of the federation lives exorbitantly will unveil the real rot in the system. Then, what is the possible cause of all these?
It has been stated that both the Bench and Bar are filthy and corrupt, though there are many lawyers and judges who still choose to maintain discipline and ethics of the profession. One thing joins the two categories together. Those involved are products of different faculties of law and the Nigerian Law School. These corrupt individuals had passed through the institutions. Therefore, it becomes imperative to check how these institutions contribute to the vice defacing our legal system.
In the past, admissions into the law colleges and faculties were based on merit strictly. Only those who qualified academically and had unquenchable passion for law were admitted to pursue the discipline. Then, courageous, brave, and disciplined lawyers were being produced. In contrast, these days, desperate parents offer bribes and manoeuvre their ways to have their children admitted on the detriment of those who were qualified. Bribery will not stop till these students graduate. What type of lawyers do we then intend to produce?
That never stops there. Cases of impersonation and examination malpractices at the Law Schools are enough to justify the assertion that corruption among legal practitioners and judges really begin at the law academic institutions. It has its root there expanding freely. And it cannot be denied that a corrupt system cannot produce incorruptible things. How can we expect the would-be lawyers and judges engaging in the academic crimes to become reliable and just practitioner of law?
Hence, the Presidency, in its quest to bring sanity to the system, should consider overhauling all the institutions responsible for training lawyers in the country. This will go a long way in stemming corruption, because the present activities of the DSS and EFCC are ephemeral. They can only work on the serving judicial officers. Much uglier ones will soon take over from the ugly judges.
Also, the Federal Government should strive hard to extend its stance on war against corruption to the state level. Corruption blossoms and flourishes among the judges and magistrates in the states of the federation. This, perhaps, can to a large extent help remove some black sheep in the legal system.
- Timothy Faboade,